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News: Students, departments of Accounting and Finance express grievances over unusual failure rate in university exit examinations

Bahir Dar University administering exit examinations (Photo: Bahir Dar University/Facebook)

Addis Abeba – Several accounting and finance departments at universities nationwide have appealed for a comprehensive review of the exit exam. These departments argue that the current format of the examination is not conducive to the students’ requirements, a concern that arose after an unusually large number of students failed to pass in the country’s first ever university exit examinations.

One graduate from Addis Ababa University’s accounting department, who requested anonymity, informed Addis Standard that the examination did not align with their prepared curriculum, suggesting it was seemingly designed to precipitate student failure. The graduate also highlighted that high-performing students, who were expected to achieve outstanding results, had failed the exam. In addition to the apparent discrepancy between the test and the prescribed preparation, there appeared to be significant issues with the grading process.

The graduate  reported that on July 12, the Ministry of Education had adjusted the scores of certain students without prior notification. In some cases, previously awarded marks were reduced, while in other instances, no extra marks were added. The graduate expressed concern over the lack of consistency in this adjustment of marks. Furthermore, the fact that many students ended up with specific scores, such as 29, 37, and 40, suggested potential errors in grading. In light of these irregularities, the graduate urged the Ministry of Education to develop a solution to rectify the situation.

Similarly, Asfaw Derisa, a student from a private college in Hawassa city, reported problems with the Accounting and Finance exam. According to Asfaw, the exam included questions outside the scope of the department’s study, resulting in no students passing the exam. He  revealed that, out of the content meant to comprise 43% of the coursework, very little was actually included in the exam. Instead, Asfaw noted that the test was filled with complex, time-consuming questions unrelated to their studies.

“More than 30 questions originated from other departments. The failure rate was not a result of student ineptitude but due to the inclusion of unfamiliar material. We require a solution.” Asfaw demanded, adding that no points were added to the scores in his college.

The ministry of education’s subsequent decision to award bonus points selectively has provoked further consternation among the students. Students contend that the Ministry, under the guise of correcting errors, has only added points for those students who were on the brink of passing the exam. They believe this move was a superficial solution aimed at pacifying the calls for a re-examination led by the student union.

Furthermore, Students suggest that the Ministry, by selectively passing students who initially failed, seeks to create a false perception that the pass rate for the accounting and finance departments is similar to other departments.  They fear that this could be a calculated move to minimize the problem and obscure the reality that the accounting and finance exam is fundamentally flawed.

The accounting and finance department of Bahir Dar University, one of the institutions vocalizing the most complaints last week, asserted that the exam was unduly focused on cooperative accounting and auditing, straying from the intended accounting and finance topics. Further, the department pointed out that many of the courses set out by the Ministry of Education were notably absent from the exam. The unexpected emphasis on just four out of the initial 15 core courses caused considerable dissatisfaction among students and staff alike.

The department highlighted the problematic nature of the exam questions, many of which were time-consuming and overly complicated, taking more than 30 minutes to answer. This design flaw, they argued, contributed to the high failure rate among students. They urged the Ministry to address these issues promptly.

In a similar vein, Debarak’s Accounting and Finance Department reported that over half of the examination questions were drawn from other disciplines, further complicating students’ efforts. The department expressed a serious concern that the exam seemed intentionally designed to disorient students rather than to accurately assess their understanding and skills.

In addition, they criticized the marked disparity between the examination content and the blueprint provided by the Ministry of Education for preparation. This department, too, has joined the call for a swift and effective resolution to these critical issues. Despite these widespread grievances, attempts to secure a response from the Ministry of Education on these matters have, to date, proven unsuccessful.

According to the Ministry, 150,184 prospective graduate students from 205 different disciplines across 48 public and 171 private higher education institutions across Ethiopia have taken the exams with pass percentage of 40.65. AS

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